Harris Sportsthoughts

Thoughts about Sport

The Curious Case of Rory McIlroy

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I’m seeing a lot of posters and adverts at the minute for a film called The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Apparently it stars Brad Pitt as the titular hero born as an old man who then ages backwards. His poor mother. I can’t imagine what her pregnancy was like, carrying around a well-built Hollywood actor around for nine months. Not to mention the wince-inducing labour (I’m not sure if this scene has been omitted from the film on grounds of decency). On the face of it this seems like a silly premise, but I am vaguely sure that a similar phenomenon is happening in the world of golf.

Rory McIlroy appeared from nowhere in 2007 to pick up the Silver Medal as the leading amateur in The Open Championship at Carnoustie. He was 17.

The Belfast Child

Rory McIroy: The Belfast Child

And today, as he leads going into the final nine holes of the Dubai Desert Classic, I am convinced that he is actually getting younger. Those little apple cheeks are even rosier than before with not the faintest hint of a whisker. The gait has even more bounce. And the hair. It spills from under his baseball cap with the lustrous abandon of youth. I half expect an enthusiastic mother to bound onto the fairway to wipe his snotty nose.

Beneath the boyish exterior is a steely confidence that is attributed by most to the fearlessness of youth. But if you subscribe to the Button theory it is a conviction forged during decades of high-level play in the amateur game.

And where was the young McIlroy born? Hollywood. Well, Hollywood in Northern Ireland. But close enough to rest my case.

Unfortunately all this means that young Master McIlroy has hit the professional ranks too late to make much of an impact. For it won’t too long before he starts to shrink and he’ll have to use clubs with the shafts cut down by his grandad. His short game may survive but the his driving and iron distance will diminish to such an extent he simply will not be able to compete with the big boys.

But he may stay old enough to make it into the 2010 Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor. And it seems appropriate that Colin Montgomerie, a man who famously resembles Mrs Doubtfire, will be there to nanny him through it.

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Written by harrisharrison

February 1, 2009 at 10:54 am

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